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New Home for Our Blog!

Just in case your subscription didn’t get migrated to our new site, I apologize!  We have moved our blog to our new website.  I thought I got everyone’s names moved over, but it turns out human error still exists.  If you would still like to receive our blog (I post one to two times per week), visit www.greenvilleyoga.com and click ‘follow.’  When you do this, you will begin receiving our posts in your inbox once again.

Thank you for understanding and we hope everyone is safe and well today.

Namaste,

Liz & Brian

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I took my first yoga class in 1997 with a friend in Atlanta.  Class was very difficult but I did attempt every posture and gave it my all.  We kept going back once a week for about six months.  I felt something after my first class I had never really felt before- a sense of being completely content and not needing or wanting anything.  This, I found out later, is common with new students.  We come to yoga because we are looking for more in our lives.  We start searching …   After years of practicing yoga I realized I was having yogic experiences at other times in my life that weren’t in a yoga room.  Some are very unique and unconventional.  Yoga means to yoke or bring together, to join.  We can sense this union when we start feeling that body, mind and spiritual connection.  When have you found yourself connecting on a soul level while not on the mat?

the RamonesThe scene for me: 1986,  Toad’s Place, New Haven Connecticut and we are 16 years old.  I arrived at the venue with my best friend.  We were very excited and filled with anticipation of a great show.  This was not our first concert. We felt a little apprehensive because we were 25 miles from home and in an unventured city late at night.  Nine bucks to get in.  The Ramones came on stage and kicked asana for 2 hours straight.  No breaks, pauses, long talks or gaps of silence.  1,2,3,4 was the only break between songs.  I lost my friend in the crowd seconds after the show began.  We squished and squashed with everyone for what seemed like hours.  No fighting, or violence was seen at all that night.  I did see mutual admiration and respect from all of us.  We were connected in a completely different way.  Johnny played fast and furious all night and we all sang with Joey and Dee Dee  to every song.

Outside of Toad’s Place, after the show, it looked like a vinyasa flow class letting out.  All of us sweating, beaming with energy and spiritually filled.  Words were not needed to communicate.  The look in our eyes said it all. In yoga terms:  We arrived from all different types of places, geographically, spiritually and emotionally.  The Ramones brought us together with the high energy of the music and as we left, we became calm and centered.  We became one.  Seeing everyone leave in a sattvic (balanced) state was magical.  I can go back there any day and still feel the energy.  Some might go as far as calling this an out of body or mystical experience. I call it my first Ramones show.  Still have the t-shirt.

Below is an audio recording from Brian’s class last week.  Just click the link to play and practice in the comfort of your own home.

Brian- Sept. 10, 2012

Namaste.

Stroke of Insight

One of the things that I have learned is that to stay on your path (whether it is a path of prayer, yoga, meditation or otherwise) you must have a strong intention.  It is far to easy to distract ourselves with something else to do.  When I was on meditation retreat, I kept a photograph of my family at the front of my mat.  Each time I sat to meditate my intention was to heal myself so I won’t pass my burdens on to my children.  This intention kept me going for quite a while.

Last week, Brian and I sat down and watch this TED video.  It has been sent to me many times and has been mentioned in three different teacher trainings I have attended.  But for some reason, it spoke even more clearly as a great intention for any practice.  These daily practices we have introduce us to and allow us to spend time in our right hemisphere.  Watch and see why this is so valuable… your life will be better for it!

Stroke of Insight

Random Acts of Kindness

Maureen's gift

Maureen’s gift

Last week we hosted our 7th anniversary party at Greenville Yoga.  We decided it was time to truly celebrate this community- not just the teachers, but the students and their dedication to living their yoga.  Through the night we had over 100 visitors of all ages and it was fun!  But one of the real gifts of the evening was being able to present Maureen Nery of UU World of Children a donation check for $3600 worth of donations from our students.  Every Sunday we offer a Karma Yoga class (Karma= service) where donations go to a local charity.  This was a year’s worth of offerings that we saved up for a small montessori preschool dedicated to diversity and learning.  This was awesome…

However, I think the true highlights of our celebration came out later.  Yesterday we came home to this email:

Just thought I would let you know that twice since your anniversary party two completely different students came to class put a $20 on the desk and said treat the next student to their yoga class – don’t tell them who treated them.

And this was received in the mail:

I want to thank you for teaching me yoga and leading me in your teacher training.  Please pass this anonymous gift to someone who needs yoga. (Enclosed was a check for $500.)

 

Kindness Is Sometimes Found in the Offering of a Smile

Kindness Is Sometimes Found in the Offering of a Smile

These random acts of kindness renew your faith in people- especially at a time where politics and opinions are running rampant.  What we really need to focus on is one another.  How can we make someone’s day (including our own) a little brighter?  How can we best serve our community?  In what way can I shine a light when someone else’s light is getting dim?  Money and paying for things is not always an option.  So I want to hear from you…

 

What are some creative ways we can “pay it forward” today?  

 

I may just have to head to Coffee Underground and pay for the next person in line.  Or maybe I’ll go do lunch duty for my son’s teacher so she can have lunch in peace?  What can you do this weekend as a random act of kindness?

This is the first formal meditation practice I was taught in January by Sarah Powers.  It is the beginning piece of Insight Meditation (or Mindfulness).  I have practiced this every night since that training.

Shamata is used to help us train the mind to focus on one point to develop concentration.  The focal point here is the breath and the movement of the diaphragm into the belly.  There are three parts to Shamata practice- relaxation, stability, & vividness.  The recording below is just the beginning point of Shamata- relaxation.  It is 12 minutes long and I hope it helps you get started in your own home meditation practice.  I’ll post new recordings every few weeks adding to your Shamata (and eventually Vipassana) practices.

Shamata Meditation- relaxation

In peace,

Liz

On Monday, we shared Part 1 of Ted’s story and journey beginning yoga.  His words shared more than he may realize… just yesterday one of our students handed us a two page paper with her story.  Ted- Your writing has inspired others to share their transformation too.  I cannot thank you enough for having the courage to share and for inspiring this community (Brian and myself included)!  This post is one of my favorites… Enjoy!

Mindfulness and My Practice

Being so new to Yoga, I can’t really say much about the technical aspects of my practice. Beyond Downward Facing Dog, Warrior II, Plank, the dreaded Tree, and Savasana, I can’t “name the parts” of any particular asana, and I can’t say I’m proficient at any one of the many poses.

What I want to talk about, instead, is my understanding of what underlies the asana. I describe this as “My Practice,” and the pole star of Practice for me is Mindfulness and Intention. I want to be very careful here to emphasize that all of this applies only to one man’s understanding of Yoga; one new student’s understanding. My Practice comprises only my application of what I perceive to be going on. Each of you will have your own, different, understanding, and Your Practice will, of necessity, be different from mine.

When looked at in the most general sense, My Practice fans out to cover every aspect of how I live my life; at the narrowest, My Practice focuses on regulating my breathing and performing the present pose as well as possible, or simply lying, mindful and at peace, in Savasana.

My Practice is now the execution of Intention, and Intention is the expression of Mindfulness in my life.

Mindfulness is the awareness of all around us and how we affect it, as well as how it affects us.

When you are driving and someone near you does something that affects you—cuts in front of you, changes lanes without signaling, etc. —you have choices about how you will react. Of course, first you make sure you are safe and not endangering others in your response, but then you choose to let your irritation dictate how your further actions will impact those around you. If you let your annoyance take control, you may make unsafe decisions and try to retaliate against someone who may not even be aware you are there. You will retain an elevated pulse rate and carry distracting irritation within you for hours.

But, if you decide to put your natural emotional response in perspective and consciously calm yourself, you can simply drive on and be at peace with yourself and those around you. In this case, you have engaged your Intention to acknowledge outside influences on Your Practice, and to put them aside as beyond your control. By taking a few deep breaths and concentrating on your Intention, you have improved your life, and perhaps that of a few people around you, for a brief period. We face choices like this many times every day, and many times we do not take the opportunity to apply our Intention. The heart of Our Practice is in recognizing these opportunities and acting in a Mindful manner.

Mindfulness is awareness, and the more aware we are of ourselves in all aspects of our lives—physical, emotional, intellectual, spiritual, etc., if these distinctions really hold any water—the better prepared we are to define our Intention, first as a guide for living a Mindful life and, moment to moment, to define our Intention for applying Our Practice to whatever is in front of us, be it driving, preparing for a class, or executing the next pose in our class.

While Yoga in the broadest sense encompasses all of life, the purpose of our attendance at any Yoga class is to increase our awareness of ourselves—our Mindfulness—through our Practice of set Yoga asana, and help us more clearly to form the idea of our Intention, so that we may direct Our Practice to fulfillment of this Intention.

All of the instructors I have encountered at Greenville Yoga are accomplished, and ever-attentive to the individual needs of their students. Clearly, the greatest part of their Intention is to help each of us, by guiding us in our poses and helping us control our breathing; to develop our personal awareness and define our Intention in leading a more Mindful life. Our instructors, however, cannot hand us our own Intention, or define Our Practice. That is up to each of us, and is a lifelong process. I have just begun this new phase of the recognition of Mindfulness and Intention through the Practice of Yoga. I hope to learn and expand my awareness for many years to come.

Namaste/”The Spirit In Me Acknowledges The Spirit In You”

Ted Balk

September 5, 2012